Day 5: Passion and Zen

My 14 year old brother is one of the most passionate people I know. He eats, sleeps, breathes, wears, reads, and polishes cars. Sometimes it seems there’s not much room in his brain for anything else. I don’t think I’ve ever known someone so single-minded in their love for something.

Okay *shuffles feet* maybe I have.

Today he had to write a poem for class based around an abstract idea of his choosing. He picked passion. A wise and pertinent choice, I thought.

I tried to come up with a few exercises to help him clear his mind and let him experience his passion in its raw, pure state. “What does that look like? How does it move? How does it feel?”

He wrote such a joyous, full-hearted poem about his love for cars, about being carried away on the wings of something like that. About losing yourself in devotion.

One of the things I am most passionate about is spirituality, in every form. And one of my favourite forms is Buddhism. I’ve been meditating on and off for ten years, with fervent passion and zeal, seeking the bliss and peace of enlightenment. The more I studied about Buddhism, the more I wondered if my passionate fiery personality was something to be quashed. Was my intense sensitivity the root of my suffering? The reason I struggled to get to the mat every day? I didn’t know how to stop feeling so much. I could watch my emotions; sometimes I could even have the awareness that they would soon pass. But I couldn’t get rid of them.

It’s only recently that I’ve started to realize without being so passionate, I never would have sought out meditation practice. I never would have read book after book after book on Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga, and Sufism. I wouldn’t still be getting up at dawn to keep my commitment to a 31 day yoga challenge. My feelings aren’t the problem, quite the reverse. Me being over-dramatic or overly sensitive is what has made me into the person I am and keeps me pursuing new knowledge and realization. It keeps me working ever harder to be the best version of myself. Passion keeps me moving in pursuit of peace.

Passionately Zen. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, I admit. But Zen is also about learning how to live with ease amid apparent opposites – being and non-being, Oneness and the Void.

So there must be a way to harmonize my fire and zest for life with the calm, observing part of myself I work so hard to cultivate. Can I learn to listen so closely (and yet with ease) that I can pick out the moment when the notes of passion and peace come together to produce one soul-stirring chord? What would that sound like?

For me, I’m beginning to think it sounds like poetry.


my heart is burning

under Shiva’s dancing feet

to limitless ash



I try to ignore

longing to go to the woods

yet the flute plays on



P.S. I now have an Etsy store up and running, in an attempt to raise a bit of money for The Humane League, and express my creativity at the same time. Check it out if you’re interested. Thank you very much🙂


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